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Written by Matt Snyder | 14 June 2012

RyanRaburn2Blisters seem like the silliest injuries for pitchers, where we usually think of elbow or shoulder damage, but they’re incredibly tough to deal with, especially when they’re as large as the one Drew Smyly developed during his last start on Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds.

So Smyly and the Tigers have no choice but to let the finger blister rest and heal over before he can resume throwing. Detroit will make his DL stint retroactive to June 11, so he’ll be eligible to pitch again on June 26. Smyly’s immediate replacement in the rotation hasn’t been announced, but I think the hope is that Doug Fister will be feeling well enough with his side strain to be activated in time to pitch on Saturday.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 07 June 2012

JhonnyPeraltaFirst things first: Jhonny Peralta isn’t an above average fielder at shortstop. He doesn’t have spectacular range and he doesn’t make plays with the flair of Troy Tulowitzki or Asdrubal Cabrera ,* but he does do one thing well, and that’s make the plays that are expected of him.

*Rod Allen raves about Asdrubal Cabrera’s glove, and he certainly makes you say ‘wow’ time and again, but his career UZR/150 is a pretty bad -10.2. Peralta’s career UZR/150 at shortstop is -2.9.

Peralta has always been a bat-first type of player; the type of player who’s bat more than makes up for his defensive shortcomings at one of the lightest-hitting positions in the game. But I don’t necessarily think that this lumps him into the group with Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Brennan Boesch, and Ryan Raburn (at second base). Guys who are truly terrible at their position defensively.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 06 June 2012

NickCastellanosThirdApparently Double-A is no big deal for Nick Castellanos. The Tigers announced on Tuesday that they were moving up their top position player prospect from Advanced-A Lakeland (where he hit .405/.461/.553 in 55 games) to AA Erie.

Castellanos made his first appearance with the Erie SeaWolves last night, and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup as the cleanup hitter. But Nick didn’t allow the bigger stage to bother him. He singled in his first plate appearance of the game, hit a sacrifice fly that drove in a run, and smacked a double (number 18 on the year).

One game is obviously a tiny sample, and we can’t come near to making any conclusions about how he’ll adjust to AA pitching, but instant success is always encouraging. At just 20 years of age, Castellanos is crazy-young for AA (he was young for A+ too), so we shouldn’t be disappointed if he doesn’t continue to put up a 1.000+ OPS against the near-major league caliber pitchers he’ll see.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 01 June 2012

OmarInfanteTigersPat Caputo of the Oakland Press published a blog post on Monday calling the Tigers’ 2007 offseason trade of Omar Infantethe worst trade made by Dave Dombrowski that nobody talks about”. It’s true that Jaque Jones was terrible as a Tiger (he’s the guy the Tigers got in return for Infante), but Caputo’s point wasn’t that Jones himself returned poor value for Infante, instead he argues the Tigers were wrong to choose Ramon Santiago over Infante. Here’s the crux of his argument:

But the biggest mistake, in retrospect, the Tigers made regarding their infield was choosing Santiago over Omar Infante following the 2006 American League pennant-winning season.

Infante has gone to make an All-Star team as a utility infielder when he was with the Braves, and has since moved onto the Marlins where, playing second base, he is currently 10th in the National League with a .319 batting average and tied with Prince Fielder in OPS (on base and slugging percentage combined) at .880. His OPS has been .750 or better every season but one since leaving the Tigers. He is easily a stronger, faster, more productive player than any of the Tigers' current second base candidates.

Caputo wishes that Infante was around to handle the second base duties for the Tigers, which is fair (I think we’d all take him right now), but it’s not fair to blame his absence on a trade that took place five offseasons ago.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 01 June 2012

QuintinBerry2Detroit is Quintin Berry City, USA right now, but you can hardly blame the fans for going nuts over the guy. He’s touched home plate seven times in eight games, and has seemed to give the offense a shot in the arm with his speed. Since Berry’s call up, the Tigers’ offense has averaged 5.4 runs per game, a full run more than their season average to date.

But, while Berry has been pretty good at the plate (with a slash line of .294/.368/.412), there’s no way he’s going to keep those numbers up for very long.

Berry has very little home run power, only hitting 20 career homers in parts of seven minor league seasons. He may hit one or two if he was to stay in the lineup all year, but his power really comes from putting the ball in play and using his legs to take an extra base or two. That’s all well and good, plenty of players have made long and useful careers out of doing just that, but Berry’s future problem will be getting those balls in play to continue falling for hits.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 23 May 2012

ChrisTrubyIt struck me today that this 2012 baseball season marks the 20th year in which I have been “baseball conscious”*. Usually such milestones would cause one to wax nostalgically about the greatest players they saw play, but I’ll take the opposite approach. I caught the tail end of Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammel, and Kirk Gibson, which was cool, and I clearly remember Cecil Fielder blasting 30 home runs every year as a youngster, but the Tigers slugged through mediocrity in my youth, and then fell into the abyss when I turned into a teenager. (Remember that long gap between winning seasons in 1993 and 2006? That was ages seven and twenty for me.)

*Now that I think back and count the years, it’s probably year 21 (or 20 and a half), but that would ruin my even number upon which I’m basing this post.

I know I’m likely in the minority, but I count all the horrible years filled with horrible players among the things I’ve been blessed with as a Tigers fan. It gives me great perspective on the “horribleness” of this year’s currently “failed expectations”. With that in mind, I present to you the bottom of the barrel: the most forgettable player seasons of the last two decades**.

**To qualify for my list, a player must have played more games at his position than any other player on the roster that year. I’m taking the player with the lowest single-season OPS at each spot.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 22 May 2012

QuintinBerryAustin Jackson appeared all set to return to the team after the initial lineup had him penciled in prior to Tuesday night’s game, but he ended up being scratched from the lineup. Following the game, the Tigers designated pitcher Colin Balester for assignment, and purchased the contract of Quintin Berry from Toledo.

You may remember Berry as the center fielder who caught fans by surprise in spring training, hitting .333/.441/.556 in 30 plate appearances and remaining in camp until the final roster cuts. But hot spring aside, Berry has been a career minor leaguer with very little power, a mild batting average, and some decent on-base skill.

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